The Editors Guild of India has approached the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Pegasus spyware controversy, reports said on Tuesday, 3 August.
The plea was filed through Advocates Rupali Samuel, Raghav Tankha, and Lzafeer Ahmad B F (AOR).
The group has also called for the Centre to be directed to furnish the details of contracts with foreign companies for deploying spyware for surveillance and the people against whom the spyware was used.
“Freedom of the press relies on non-interference by the government and its agencies in reporting of journalists, including their ability to securely and confidentially speaking with sources, investigate abuse of power and corruption, expose governmental incompetence, and speak with those in opposition to the government [sic].”Editors Guild of India’s petition
The plea also stated, "The citizens of India have a right to know if the executive government is infringing the limits of their authority under the Constitution and what steps have been taken to safeguard their fundamental rights."
"...all attempts to seek accountability and enforce constitutional limits through Parliamentary processes have been stonewalled."Editors Guild of India’s petition
Five potential targets, including four Indian journalists and one activist have also moved the Supreme Court to protect their fundamental right to privacy.
Meanwhile, various other parties have also filed petitions in the apex court regarding the Pegasus spyware row, including senior journalists N Ram and Shashi Kumar as well as CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas and Advocate ML Sharma.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant will be hearing petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the Pegasus ‘snoopgate’ on 5 August.
What is the Pegasus Row?
Reports published since 18 July, under the ‘Pegasus Project’ by the online news portal The Wire have revealed that over 300 journalists, activists, Opposition leaders, government officials and even current Union ministers may have been potential targets of surveillance through the Israeli NSO-made Pegasus spyware over the past few years.
While the Centre on Friday, 30 July, had said that the controversy over allegations of spying was a "non-issue", the Opposition among other parties involved has demanded answers in Parliament.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, as well the woman staffer who had levied sexual harassment allegations against the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and some of her family members were revealed as potential targets of the spyware.
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